Loneliness Week 2020 Loneliness Awareness Week takes place between 15th – 21st June 2020. It exists to help raise awareness of loneliness and encourage people to speak about it openly. According to Carers UK, 8 in 10 Carers have felt lonely or socially isolated as a result of their caring role. Whilst being extremely rewarding, it can also be lonely when bearing so much of the responsibility of caring for a loved one. Long-term loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and increased stress. A survey carried out by Carers UK in 2015 of over 5,000 carers across the UK revealed that 84% of carers feel more stressed, 78% feel more anxious and 55% reported that they suffered from depression as a result of their caring role. The loneliness carers experience can be caused by a number of factors: You may be so busy that you have no time or energy left to see friends and other family, Friends or family may drift away as your life becomes so different from theirs. The emotional demands of caring for a loved one and focusing on their well-being means that you neglect your own. The costs associated with caring, particularly if you have had to give up work to care, can mean that you are struggling financially and cannot afford to do some of the social activities you did before. You can find that your relationships become increasingly transactional rather than affirming and sustaining. For many carers, the world simply shrinks. Your role can become one of providing and co-ordinating care, taking your loved one to medical appointments, going to the pharmacy, liaising with care workers. Are you feeling lonely? Five ways to help yourself 1. Be kinder to yourself As a carer you spend a lot of your time focusing on someone else. You may feel as if you just have no time at all for yourself but looking after your own well-being is important for you and for them. Try to make time for things you enjoy and plan regular breaks into your routine. We have created a programme of online webinars to help you consider your own well-being – why not book on to one or two of them to give you some tips and strategies to look after yourself. 2. Be honest with family and friends Don’t be afraid to share the load with others. Relatives and close friends often want to help, but don’t know how. A simple phone call, explaining how you feel, might be all it takes to get them onboard and make you feel less alone. 3. Stay in touch Try to make sure you have some contact with the outside world every day. Even if it’s just chatting to a neighbour or talking to your family on Zoom. 4. Take a break This might sound easier said than done, however most carers agree that taking a break and having some time for yourself is the best way to combat loneliness. We are running regular carer coffee breaks – check out our events page for more information. 5. Contact people who understand Remember that we are here for you if you are struggling with your caring role (0300 012 4272). We can also signpost you to other organisations that may be able to offer specific support, depending on your needs.